Facebook tips for military spouses

*This was originally posted for submariner wives but it applies to ALL military spouses (and servicemembers), regardless of branch of service. Too many times I've seen people post information that puts them or their military member and his/her unit in danger. Please think before you post. OPSEC, people. It's not that difficult to understand.*


Since there has been conflicting information going around as to what is appropriate and what isn't regarding boat movements on Facebook, I just wanted to clarify current rules so that everyone is receiving correct information from the source.

1. It is NEVER appropriate to post boat departure and arrival dates (this includes sly references such as "Tomorrow I won't be sleeping alone.... or "my daughter's b-day minus 2 days is when he'll be back", etc) Also included in this would be online countdown calendars.

2. Unlike a conversation you would have with a friend, any information you post on Facebook/Myspace is accessed by hundreds, if not thousands of people. So even broad statements (referring to month of departure/arrival or general timelines - months/weeks) are inappropriate. You may not think you are giving specific information, but in most cases it is possible to look at your profile and determine what command your husband is with, as well as identifying information regarding timelines (aka - if you state to a friend that he is leaving right before your b-day, I can look at your profile and determine the command name, your b-day and approximate boat departure just based on that general statement)

3. It is not appropriate to talk about the condition of the boat. This includes saying that the boat is broken, rumors about other boats being broken etc. It is also not appropriate to discuss BSP's, mail drops or the boat's mission on the internet.

4. Beyond, the National Security risks associated with revealing boat movement, there is also a HUGE personal safety issue in revealing this information in such a public setting. Stating to everyone on Facebook that you are alone, greatly adds to the possibility of that information being given to the wrong person. Just like you wouldn't post that you were leaving your home for weeks and that your key is under your flower pot, you shouldn't share with strangers that you are alone for weeks, months, etc. Unfortunately, many criminals realize the vulnerability of military spouses while their husbands are deployed and have exploited information like this.

I realize it can be confusing trying to determine what can/can't be said on the internet regarding your husband's job. I would highly advise that if the comment seems to fall in the "gray" area or you have ANY doubts about whether it is appropriate, error on the side of caution and DON'T post it. Violations such as these are resulting in loss of email privileges for family members, extended underways for the boats- or in some cases, no phone tree messages regarding departure/arrival of the Subs if there is continued trouble with information being given out. At the very least, most Commands are requiring that your sailor get a not so friendly talk from the COB/Chief regarding information that is revealed by a spouse, significant other, or family member.
If you see a violation on the internet, you should inform your friend to immediately remove the information - if there is no immediate resolution or if it is a blatant security violation, you should contact the Ombudsman, COB or NCIS with the violation. If there are any questions you have regarding this note, please feel free to contact me so we can discuss them! I don't want to sound like I am lecturing everyone but I realize that the Navy has not been very clear in spelling out exactly what can and can't be said over the internet. Many times spouses get information from other spouses and even sailors regarding Operational Security on the internet that isn't accurate. Rather, than having to learn the hard way, I am hoping this information will give you some ground rules for any future information you share over the internet. I hope we can all work together to keep our sailors safe and ensure that they all get to come home as quick as possible.

Stolen from Megan Matthiesen Ombudsman USS Rhode Island (B)

I've seen things as vague as "Tomorrow!!!!!!!!!" and as blatant as "My husband is on AA flight #3621 coming through ATL at 3:15pm..." and all of them make my head hurt. Seriously, how difficult is it to wrap your brain around operational security? It's ok to talk about things AFTER the fact but it's not ok to talk about them BEFORE they happen.

I really appreciate Ms. Matthiesen's guidelines.


- hfs


Jen said...

The problem is, the people with common sense already KNOW. The people who are posting crap all over FB and don't have the sense God gave a goat won't get how OPSEC applies to them until they get smacked in the face. Repeatedly. With a 2x4. That has nails sticking out of it.

And they still might not even get it. They just. don't. GET. IT.

Common sense can't be taught, unfortunately. And in this case, it puts thousands of people at risk.

Curtis said...

Those are the rules for wartime. We are not at war. We are shopping at the mall. WRT the boats, there is not a single country on the earth that can find them after they submerge 5 miles off the coast and head out on patrol. WRT the brigades and battalions the Pax Americana dictates that their locations be known far and wide. OPSEC is mostly a method of limiting legal liability. 99% of the forces deployed are on standard routine rotations to IFOR, KFOR, IRAQ, AFG, KUWAIT etc. The only ones that deviate from the norm are the SPECWAR types and folks like me are always happy to make up stories about the ubiquitous SPECWAR guys.

DL Sly said...

...this includes sly references...

What the ...??? I didn't do anything!

Homefront Six said...

Sly ~ LOL

Curtis ~ I understand that the threat for forces other than submariners is tenuous at best but it is still a threat that doesn't need to be there. Additionally, from a personal safety standpoint, announcing on FB or your YIM status or whatever that your spouse is gone is a threat to personal safety (unless, like me, you post the fact that you're a dead aim with a shotgun!) that doesn't need to be either.

And this all stems from my frustration with the fact that people today seem to be oblivious to the fact that there are actually, *gasp*, other people in the universe. Is it truly that difficult to comprehend the fact that our actions - words and deeds - actually have an effect on OTHER PEOPLE? Obviously it is. Grr.

FranklyOpinionated said...

As a troop supporting veteran, I would like to know where they are today, yesterday, tomorrow, etc. But, being a troop supporting veteran, I know of these issues, and know that the enemy, (Al Qaida, Taliban, Liberal losers, et al), can make something out of the littlest bits of information.
To the dipsticks who think this is not applicable to them: What if your man, (husband, boyfriend, son, father, etc), were to have problems that were a result of violating Opsec? Wouldn't it be better if you enlightened yourself, and passed it on to your fellow dummies who see Opsec as an obstruction to your life; that even in a limited war: "Loose lips sink ships, and planes, and humvees, and,,,,,,,,"
Why put up info that really has no bearing on what time the sun will rise or set?
Nuf Sed

airforcewife said...

Facebook has a way of coming back to bite a person on the butt - and even though most things are easily discovered some other way, you never know which bit of information makes the connection to other information, etc.


It's not necessary to be the person who keeps telling people, "I have sooper sekrit stuff that I can't talk about!" (because that is totally obnoxious) But a modicum of caution is probably best for everyone.

You never know when your spouse will end up the head of MI6, after all. :)

Maybe we should use THAT example in briefings for spouses?

Mrs Macnaughty said...

1.) We are at war
2.)The nature of combat is international, indiscreet, injust and doesn't abide by the International Rules of Engagement. Not for the enemy anyway. Our troops are bound like a coiled spring.
3.) Loose lips sinks ships
4.) Careless talk costs lives



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